More than a half-century after streetcars were abandoned and burned, at least a dozen U.S. cities are working to revive them.
The revitalization of Portland, Ore.’s Pearl District, where empty warehouses were replaced with art galleries and abandoned rail yards gave way to multi-family housing, truly began for some when a streetcar line opened there in 2001. As the streetcar shuttled passengers around the once-decrepit neighborhood, it also swept billions of dollars of investments into the revived community.
What’s more, streetcars can protect the environment. “If you have clean electrical energy sources and feed them into the tram system,” said
Patrick Condon, a professor at the University of British Columbia and author of Seven Rules for Sustainable Communities- “it is greenhouse gas zero.” That combination of smart urban development and eco-friendly transit, he said, means more sustainable cities by 2050. “The real benefit of thinking about trams is not the vehicle itself,” Condon said, “but rather how the whole city works and how you move from place to place in a way that’s elegant, comfortable and greenhouse gas zero.”
Read on for details and examples that feature the potential positive benefits of reviving the streetcar- a 'clean alternative to cars'.